Stage 3 water restrictions for 20,000 people in and around Port Alberni ended just before 5 p.m., Friday after emergency repairs were made to a damaged water line.
The incident happened Thursday morning when a logging truck went off Franklin River Road rupturing an exposed section of the city’s main waterline.
“It was a pretty significant accident of a logging truck going off the road through some of our barriers that protect this line and unfortunately right into the worst spot it could have gone into, a really critical part of our infrastructure for our community,” said Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions.
The truck was unloaded at the time of the crash and the driver escaped serious injuries.
However, there was significant damage to the water pipe.
“So about 20 metres of pipe is exposed in that location and 10 metres of it was actually damaged,” said Rob Dickinson, Director of Engineering & Public Works for the City of Port Alberni.
The City normally has four days of water in storage but the rupture resulted in the loss of three days worth so the City put Stage 3 water restrictions in place to conserve what remained as repairs were made around the clock.
“The water affects the City of Port Alberni, as well we provide water to Tseshaht and Hupačasath First Nations and then additionally to Beaver Creek residents,” added Minions. “So a huge amount of community members, probably about 20,000 people we’ve asked to conserve water and to really aggressively conserve water while we work to get this issue repaired as soon as possible.”
Emergency parts from Nanaimo and Courtenay expedited the repair.
“Well the truck cut out the broken part for us so all we had to do was clean off the ends and get some more pipe and put it in place,” said Dickinson. “It’s just the location right there with the steep ravine, that’s what’s making this a little tricky to do the repair.”
A question being asked now is, should such a critical piece of infrastructure be exposed like this at all?
“It’s not uncommon for a line like this to be exposed as long as it’s protected by barriers but an incident like this is always an opportunity to review, especially as we’re building it back, if there will be alterations,” said Minions.
The City of Port Alberni says the quality of drinking water was not affected, just the supply and it was fully restored just before 5 p.m. Friday.
The City also says it will be seeking to recover the costs of the repair.
The truck involved was a contractor of Mosaic Forest Management.